The Bachelor and Bachelorette is all about love. The journey to love, the process of finding love, ending the show in love, etc. In fact Marcus even told Bachelorette Andi Dorfman that he loved her on Monday's episode confidently telling her "I am in love with you," even though there were still seven other guys in the competition.
But we all know, in the words of the great Sharleen from Juan Pablo's season, that feelings on the show can seem "a little forced." Forcing the issue and speeding things along is bound to happen when someone is expected to narrow 25 people down to their soulmate in a matter of weeks.
Somehow though, couples occasionally manage to find the L-word on this reality TV show. (Although, to be fair, not many of them stay in love.) But while on the show, many connections are made and many people profess their undying love in a matter of weeks on national television. Needless to say, the stages of Bachelor/Bachelorette love play by a different set of rules than regular couples might be used to. Here are the 10 stages of falling in love on a TV show as illustrated by The Bachelor and Bachelorette.
STAGE ONE: WE HAVE A CONNECTION
On night one the contestants meet their potential match for about 30 seconds outside of the limo, and get maybe another two minutes during the cocktail party. It's after these 150 seconds that they are expected to feel something. Many of them say they feel a connection. After seasons of watching this show that word has lost all meaning to me, but I know it's step one on the path to reality TV romance.
STAGE TWO: I COULD SEE MYSELF WITH YOU
Translation: "I can picture myself at the end with that giant ring on my finger" or "Yeah I could see myself with you, but I also could see myself as the next Bachelor/Bachelorette, so imma chill for awhile."
STAGE THREE: WHATEVER THE HELL STEPPING AND SKIPPING IS
Ah, Des and Brooks. The pair decided that they needed stages between like and love. The two of them decided on an athletic reference naming those in-between stages "stepping, skipping, running, and finish line." So somewhere between imagining yourself as the winner and actually being that winner is the stepping and skipping part of this whole ordeal. It's not recommended that the contestants actually use those names for this stage, though. It caused confusion during Desiree's season when Des found herself at the finish line and Brooks was still in the jogging stage. Goodness knows we don't want a repeat of Des and Brooks' relationship.
STAGE FOUR: I'M FALLING FOR YOU
This is when things are getting serious and the contestants have to start proving to their date that no, really, they have a real connection, they promise.
STAGE FIVE: I'M FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU
Translation: "I want to say love, but I'm afraid to say love, so I'm throwing that 'falling' in there." This stage is slightly more serious than just plain old falling for someone and should basically be treated as an "I love you," especially if it comes out of one of the guys' mouths.
STAGE SIX: HOLY CRAP IT'S HOMETOWNS AND I STILL HAVEN'T SAID I LOVE YOU
Things get really serious around hometowns and most of the contestants drop their L-words then. If a contestant chooses to wait longer than that it's usually a big deal and sometimes they get sent home. Lesley suffered this fate on Sean's season when she was too afraid to tell him she was falling for him. In the end, he sent her packing the week before hometown dates because he didn't feel their relationship was moving quickly enough.
STAGE SEVEN: I LOVE YOU
Most contestants wait until the final few weeks to say these magic words. Marcus dropped them on Monday night, not once, but twice. It seemed a bit premature with seven other guys still in the running, but hey, I don't make the love rules. Good luck with that one, Marcus.
STAGE EIGHT: IF THEY SAY IT BACK ON CAMERA BEFORE THE SHOW ENDS YOU ARE GOING HOME
Desiree told Brooks she loved him way before the final episode. Of course that meant their relationship was doomed. The only reason ABC would give away her feelings was if they didn't end up being reciprocated. And that's exactly how it turned out. So a contestant almost shouldn't want the person to say anything to them on screen because that could mean bad news ahead.
STAGE NINE: WAIT NOT-SO-PATIENTLY FOR THE FINAL ROSE CEREMONY SO THEY CAN SAY IT BACK
I'm pretty sure it's written in the rules that the Bachelor/Bachelorette is not allowed to say on camera that they love the person back. Courtney Robertson says Ben Flajnik told her in the privacy of the fantasy suite, but other than that, it's a pretty big no no. ABC doesn't want to give things away to viewers by confirming that the Bachelor/Bachelorette loves one person and they don't love the others. Instead the contestant just has to announce their feelings and then sit through a hug or a kiss or a rose or whatever the Bachelor/Bachelorette gives them instead of that reassuring phrase.
STAGE TEN: UNLESS YOU'RE NIKKI, THEN YOU'RE STILL WAITING
Poor Nikki made it all the way to the end and through to the "After the Final Rose" special without hearing those coveted words. Does JP love her? Jury's still out on that one.